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Celebrating Black History Makers: Jaquie Algee Has Spent Decades Fighting For Civil Rights And Equity

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For decades, a Chicago woman has hit the pavement in protest - fighting against racial injustice and inequities.

Jaquie Algee fights for civil rights, workers' rights and so much more. For this CBS 2 Chicago History Maker - change begins when you mobilize and march.

"If you will not stand up for something, you will lay down for anything – and I refuse to do that," Algee told CBS 2's Audrina Bigos.

Algee is fighting from her roots – a family from the Deep South that marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Getting beat, and getting spat on, and getting jailed," Algee said. "We had to march. Marching was very key, because it drew the attention to whatever the issue was; and for them, it was freedom."

Algee now carries the baton - not only marching, but mobilizing the masses.

She led the charge of the Chicago's Women March - as board president and founding member - after the election of President Donald Trump.

"The march is to a movement, and we're going to move to get him out," Algee said at the time.

In 2017, a quarter million people came out for the women's march in Chicago. A total of 300,000 came out the next year amid the #MeToo movement.

And two decades ago, Algee also helped organize one of the biggest marches ever in the nation's capital - the Million Mom March in 2000.

"That was really a purpose-driven mission, or assignment for me, because my son and only child had been murdered here in Chicago - and I vowed until I joined him that I was always going to fight to end gun violence," Algee said.

She held a picture of her son, Kenneth, up outside the White House at the march.

"Now, have we settled it? Is gun violence still prevalent? Absolutely it is - and too much of it," Algee said. "But what it did do was raise attention."

And that's the point of this all for Algee - marching as a catalyst for change.

She now mentors and trains the next generation of activists, like some who organized local protests after the police killing of George Floyd.

"I used to have a concern about how things were going to be once I stopped doing the work," Algee said. "But I don't have that concern anymore, because I know there are so many of them out here - young women and young men who are not only capable and qualified, but brave."

In her day job, Algee fights for workers' rights as Vice President of External Relations for SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana - a union of health care, child care, home care and nursing home workers. She also serves with the Poor People's Campaign, fighting economic inequalities.


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